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Disparity in fraud sentences lawful

In Dosanjh [2013] EWCA 2366 the appellants had been convicted of a £39m MTIC VAT fraud. The three appellants were sentenced to 15 years, 11 years and 9 years respectively. Each was disqualified as acting as a director for a period of 12 years. Clare Montgomery QC appeared on behalf of the first appellant Dosanjh. The trial judge was able to sentence her client to 15 years as he had been convicted of the common law offence of conspiracy to cheat the revenue. Dosanjh's primary ground of appeal was that, in fraud cases of this nature, there existed a significant disparity between the maximum sentences available for common law offences and those for statutory offences for fraud under the Fraud Act 2006 (10 years maximum) or the Value Added Tax Act 1994 (7 years maximum). Miss Montgomery QC's argument that it was wrong in principle to impose a longer sentence than that permitted by the equivalent statutory offence was rejected. Lady Justice Hallett DBE saw "no reason to dissent from the proposition in the sentencing Guideline Council's Definitive Guideline on Fraud to the effect that 'the common law offence of cheating the public revenue is generally reserved for the most serious and unusual offences and where a sentence in excess of the statutory maximum would be proper'. The Court did however conclude that the trial judge had chose too high a starting point and reduced the sentences accordingly to 13 years, 10 years and 8 years.


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